By now, most of you have heard the story involving Evans High School junior Wes Ivie.
Ivie, a talented offensive lineman who helped spearhead the Knights' ground attack for the past two seasons, has played his last down for the Knights this season. This story, however, is far bigger than football.
On Oct. 24, during a police search on the Evans campus, Ivie remembered he had left his rifle in his truck. He had been on a deer hunting trip, and he left the rifle in the back of his vehicle. The rifle was not loaded and was in a locked gun case in a locked automobile.
Not wanting to get in hot water over the weapon, he informed a teacher of his oversight and asked whether he could have his mother come get the rifle. He was taken to the office, and a police report was filed. The officer investigating the incident felt it was an innocent mistake, so no charges were filed.
Ivie has been serving in-school suspension since the incident, but after a ruling handed down by the Columbia County school board last week, he now will be sent to alternative school for the rest of the semester. He also lost his driver's license for a year, and perhaps this will be a blemish on an otherwise clean record.
My first thought was that this is ridiculous. Obviously, the kid forgot the gun was in the vehicle, and they should have been more lenient based on the circumstances and his clean history at the school. The 16-year-old made a mistake and came forward with his error. It appears he has not been rewarded for coming forward. Does this teach other kids to stay quiet if another incident like this comes up?
I understand we live in a different climate after Columbine, but you have to be able to look at cases on an individual basis. Shouldn't the kid's character, how he handled this situation, and other circumstances be taken into account? Shouldn't we use common sense?
Many people have been bashing the school board and its superintendent, Charles Nagle. I know Nagle well. He is a good man. I have seen countless times since he became superintendent and before when he was fair and tried to do the right thing. I think the people of Columbia County have a terrific man running the Board of Education.
In addition, in their defense, the board members were put in a tough spot. They do not want to open the door for others to claim "innocence" when weapons are found. They want to protect kids in our school system. The board could have expelled Ivie for the year, which would have been a grave injustice.
Ivie will be allowed to return to Evans when the new semester begins, but he still has plenty to deal with. This is very tough for a kid who seemed to have handled his mistake honestly.
In fact, if I were the attorney for the family, these would have been my questions to the board: "How could he have handled this any better? What could he have done to not be headed to the alternative school?"
I realize this issue was extremely difficult, but that is why we have a school board: to make difficult decisions to ensure our kids get a good education in a safe environment. They should be much more willing to discuss their rulings. It just seems as if they wanted this to die down with little discussion.
I don't know every member of the school board. The ones I do know seem like good people. I don't think they would be out to harm the character or future of a student, but this ruling leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
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